Ambulance Service needs €50m investment to meet standards

SIPTU say that the National Ambulance Service needs €50 million worth of investment to bring it up to scratch. The union is calling on the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to publish the HSE national ambulance review, which the Minister has had a summary of since December 2014.

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Minister Leo Varadkar with members of the National Ambulance Service at recent launch of new ambulance fleet

Ambulance service SIPTU members are to meet in the coming weeks to consider strike action in order to secure publication of the review.

HIQA  has heavily criticised the HSE ambulance service in reviews, but SIPTU say they need significant investment in order to meet required standards.

Major Investment for Fire Brigade Training Centre in Hacketstown

Hacketstown Fire Service is to benefit from a proposed new training and development centre which is expected to strengthen even further the fire service, locally, regionally and nationally. The Department of Environment and Local Government have approved the first phase of the project which is now due to go to tender. The investment is worth €249,500 plus VAT.

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Hacketstown Fire Station. Photo: (

News on the recent announcement of the investment has been warmly welcomed by local Councillors and TD’s. Fine Gael TD Pat Deering said “The new centre will really strengthen the fire service at Hacketstown and will be of huge benefit to Carlow and the wider area in servicing as a regional training and development centre for the South East region.”

Deputy Deering congratulated those involved in securing the Hacketstown project. He also commended the members of Carlow County Fire Service for their recent and latest success in fire brigade competitions. “I commend Chief Fire Officer Gerard Guerin for this forward thinking approach and commitment to ensuring that Carlow fire service is best equipped to meet future challenges” he said.

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Assistant Chief Fire Officer Michael Gahan, Chief Fire Officer Gerard W. Guerin and Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan O’ Neill. Photo: (Thomas Nolan)

Carlow County Fire & Rescue Service has won many awards for the service they provide, and now the county has a ‘world class’ fire-fighting team as the team has won three awards at the recent World Rescue Organisation challenges.

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Carlow FRS Team at World Rescue challenge. Pic Courtesy Carlow Fire & Rescue Service

Fine Gael TD for Wicklow & East Carlow and Minister of State Simon Harris has welcomed the proposed new training and development centre for Hacketstown.  “I am thrilled that a new fire training and development centre is to be established in Hacketstown. This is fantastic news for East Carlow. This is a clear investment by the Government in East Carlow and I hope to further positive developments for the communities of Hacketstown and Rathvilly,” the Minister concluded.


2016 to see 600 new Garda Recruits

When the moratorium on Garda recruitment ended in 2013, over 24,000 applications were received for an initial 300 posts which, according to the Garda Commissioner is partly because of the variety of the roles within the services, ranging from Community Policing to Detective work and Forensics, from working with our Dog Unit to being part of the Mounted Unit.

Secondments to overseas police services and to the United Nations also offer career development opportunities. Few organisations can offer such a wide variety of career options, experiences, and training and educational opportunities.

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Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’ Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald with Garda Students in Templemore. (Pic: Declan Keogh)

Announcing the recruitment campaign of 600 new gardai for 2016, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’ Sullivan said “We’ve always attracted way more applicants than available positions. We want to build on that, attracting people from every strand of Irish life to help us renew our culture while retaining our best traditions.”

“When I joined An Garda Síochána in 1981, I was one of a tiny minority of women, now, over a quarter of Gardaí are women. I hope that trend continues, just as I hope we get lots of applications from every strand of Irish society. Why? Because we are of the community and should reflect the changes in our communities. We already have different nationalities and backgrounds represented in An Garda Síochána, but not enough. I want people of every background, right throughout the country, to think about joining us and help to make us a beacon of modern policing.”

An Garda Síochána will be working with the Public Appointments Service to reach as many potential applicants as possible through publicity, social media activity and engagement with representative groups.

The Commissioner said “being a member of An Garda Síochána can be an incredibly rewarding career. It’s about working with the community, and protecting and supporting individuals and communities. It also demands courage. And, above all, it demands high standards. Culture cannot be imposed from the top –we need all our people to work with us to create an organisation that attracts and rewards people of the highest calibre.”

There are currently more than 500 trainee Gardaí studying for a BA in Applied Policing. Over 290 of these are attested and serving in local communities.

Applications to join An Garda Síochána must be made through <> . The closing date for applications is Tuesday, 5th January 2016.

Emergency Department Congestion Escalation Directive signed by Health Minister

The Director General of the HSE Tony O’Brien, the Director of Acute Hospital Services Liam Woods and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar have signed a Protocol to build on the small but significant progress made in recent weeks to address Emergency Department overcrowding.

This Protocol for acute hospitals requires them to implement their Escalation Plan whenever their Emergency Department experiences overcrowding. Hospitals which do not comply will be subject to penalties with the resources re-allocated. It follows a small improvement in trolley numbers in the past week, compared with the same period last year. The Directive is designed to ensure that as much further progress is made in the weeks and months ahead in terms of managing ED overcrowding.

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Overcrowded Hospital A&E Unit: (Pic: Irish Independent)

Speaking on Friday, Minister Varadkar said: “The most recent numbers from the INMO and SDU indicate that the number of people on trollies is lower for November 2015 than November 2014. This represents a marked improvement from the summer when the situation was between 20% and 40% worse than summer 2014.
“On any given weekday, the number of patients on trollies peaks around 300, falling to 150 by the evening. While still not good enough, this is a far cry from the 500-600 we witnessed in January. The situation has eased due to the measures taken to date including increased staffing, more beds in hospitals, nursing homes and community facilities, more home helps and home care packages to facilitate discharge, and more community intervention teams, day hospital capacity and acute medical assessment units, to allow people to avoid having to go to the Emergency Department at all. Attendances are down about 1% this year. Nonetheless, there are still far too many people waiting too long in our Emergency Departments, so further measures now need to be taken to escalate this response to ensure that the progress is sustained.

“Today I signed a directive jointly with Tony O’Brien and Liam Woods, setting out the measures that hospitals must take when overcrowding occurs. It is our expectation that this can help to secure in December some of the progress made so far as even more beds will open.”

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Minister Leo Varadkar. (Pic: Irish Examiner)

The Plan makes it compulsory for each acute hospital to take specific steps to address overcrowding such as extra ward rounds if trolley figures reach ‘red’ status as set out on the daily reports from the SDU. It also requires each hospital to take steps if any patient is left on a trolley for more than nine hours, the recommended maximum waiting time.

Significantly, the Directive removes the discretion of individual hospitals to implement their Escalation Plan.

The Directive is being issued on foot of discussions between the Director General of the HSE and the Minister for Health on how best to address ED congestion with all of the available resources, both within and outside acute hospitals.

Individual escalation plans require the following steps to be taken:

·        Additional ward rounds;
·        Postpone non-urgent elective procedures;
·        Full cooperation with Social Care and Primary Care services in discharging patients;
·        Working closely with Community Intervention Teams to provide Antibiotics and other basic care in a patient’s home or care facility, rather than a hospital;
·        The national ambulance service must be engaged with actively to assist in effective turnaround times and provision of inter hospital transfers to manage group wide capacity;
·        As a last resort, extra beds will be put on wards.

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(Pic: Irish Independent)

The Directive requires that each hospital regards ED congestion as a key issue for the whole hospital, and for primary and community care services. If ED congestion occurs, all hospitals have escalation plans to manage not only patient flow but also patient safety in a responsive, controlled and planned way that supports and ensures the delivery of optimum patient care.

The signing of the Directive follows the allocation of €117 million of additional funding specifically to address ED overcrowding, the ongoing recruitment of frontline staff, and the phased re-opening of 420 beds under the Winter Initiative.

Dublin Fire Brigade seeking to recruit Emergency Service Controllers

Have you ever wondered what it;’s like to be an emergency control room operator, dealing with emergency 999 calls from the public? Well, here is your chance to find out!

Dublin City Council is seeking committed and enthusiastic individuals to join its East Region Control Centre as Emergency Services Controller at Dublin Fire Brigade on a temporary basis.  The East Region Control Centre (ERCC), currently located in Tara Street, Dublin 2, is operated and managed by Dublin Fire Brigade; it handles the Fire, Rescue and Emergency Calls for the majority of Leinster and also handles Emergency Ambulance calls for Dublin City and County.


Dublin Fire Brigade provides the fully integrated Fire, Emergency Ambulance and Rescue Service for the four Dublin Local Authorities: Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire / Rathdown County Councils. To facilitate the provision of this service Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) employs approximately 1000 personnel working in 6 districts with 12 full-time stations, 2 retained (part-time) stations, Training Centre, East Region Communications Centre, Fire Prevention, Administration and Workshops with a fleet of 115 + vehicles. DFB provides a response to a diverse range of emergencies along with fighting fires and responding to Emergency Ambulance incidents. DFB also responds to incidents involving Water Rescue, High Line Rescue, Road Traffic Collisions, Flooding, Chemical Incidents and Marine Emergency Response.

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Pic: (Sharon Gaffney)

The role of the Emergency Services Controller is the essential first step in getting emergency appliances, officers and other supporting services to the incident plus providing support services to fire crews. The Controller will receive emergency calls from the public and other agencies and as speedily as possible, the Controller must identify the location and nature of the incident. In addition, the Controller will provide administrative services to both the ERCC and participating fire authorities as required. Successful candidates will be employed on a shift system which covers an emergency call answering service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Upon recruitment Emergency Services Controllers will be required to undertake an initial ten week training course.


Calls to fires and medical emergencies can in fact be just a small part of the everyday work that Emergency Services Controllers do. However Controllers do take calls for all types of emergencies, which can involve both major and minor incidents including Water Rescue, High Line Rescue, Road Traffic Collisions, Flooding, Chemical Incidents and Marine Emergency Response. At times they may also need to be able to give life-saving advice over the telephone.

DFB FF The Journal

This type of work requires a range of personal skills such as understanding, reliability, flexibility and the ability to work within a team.

To find out more and apply, click here:

Fire Fighter and ‘true hero’ taken on his last journey

‘Jonni was a really lovely gentleman to be around.He joined the fire cadets when he was 12 and decided then that he wanted to be a firefighter.’

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have said their last farewell to one of their much loved colleagues and friend when they carried his remains to the church on an Hydraulic Platform.

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Firefighter Jonathan Hughes, aged 26 and better known to many as Jonni died on October 16th from an extremely rare form of non lymphoma blood cancer. He died a week after marrying his girlfriend Natalie.

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Photo: (The late Jonathan Hughes)

Stationed at Widnes fire station, Jonathan joined the fire cadets when he was 12 years old and at that early age he knew he wanted to be a fire fighter.

Hundreds of fire fighters from many stations across the greater region attended his funeral. His coffin, draped in the Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service standard and his cap was carried into St. Michael’s Catholic Church by his colleagues at ‘Red Watch’, at Widnes.

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Photo: (Red Watch Manager Jason Fletcher carries Jonni’s fire helmet)

Around 700 people attended his requiem mass which was celebrated by Fr. Matthew Nunes, while there was standing room only for many others.

Cheshire Chief Fire Officer Paul Hancock led a eulogy as relatives paid personal tributes and read poems.

Station Manager Jason Fletcher said “Jonni was an exceptional, passionate firefighter. He was never happier than when red watch were in the thick of it, saving lives and property.” He recalled how Jonni and his team were awarded a star award for their courageous action rescuing a man from a flat fire in Widnes.

Station Commander Tony O’Dwyer said: “Red watch were in close contact with Jonni and his family during his fight with cancer and rallied round helping where they could include holding a boxing fundraising event. The service are proud of their firefighters and the role they play in the community and we wanted to show how proud we were of Jonni.”

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Photo: (A fire engine floral tribute)

SC O’ Dwyer said “Jonni was a really lovely gentleman to be around.He joined the fire cadets when he was 12 and decided then that he wanted to be a firefighter.This is phenomenal. It takes a lot of commitment to be so dedicated at such a young age”

Hundreds of messages have been left in a book of condolence. Christopher Waterworth said: ‘The town of Widnes would like to thank you for your pride, passion and dedication towards keeping our community safe’ while Joe Conway added: ‘A true hero.’

Jonni’s family invited donations for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research and The Fire Fighters Charity.

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A guard of honour was formed by firefighters and many hundreds lined the streets of Widnes as the cortege made its way to Widnes cemetery.

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Photo Credits: (Runcorn and Widnes World)

Carlow & Meath Fire Services are tops in International Challenges

Twenty-nine teams from sixteen countries participated in The Extrication Challenge which was held at the Interschutz Emergency Services Tradeshow in Hannover, Germany. Ireland was represented at the competition by Meath County Fire & Rescue Service, who are the current top Irish rescue team having won the Irish National Rescue Challenge in Cork in April.

These rescue challenge events place fire service teams in realistic crash rescue scenarios and challenge them to use all their levels of skill and experience in rescuing live ‘casualties’ from crashed vehicles. The specialist training in preparation for these events is done by the crew outside of normal training hours and shows the dedication of the fire service personnel in being the best that they can in rescuing road traffic collision victims from life-threatening situations.

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Photo: Meath team: (Alan Campbell (Navan), Dave Snowe (Ashbourne), Paul Colleran (Oldcastle), Nicky Brunton (Oldcastle), Alan Egan (Dunshaughlin), Keith Russell (Navan) and ACFO Pádraig Ó Longaigh)

The team from Meath County Fire & Rescue Service excelled in Hannover and received First Place in this prestigious and unique international emergency services event. ‘IC’ Paul Colleran also received an award for the Best Incident Commander in the Holmatro Extrication Challenge.

Speaking to Emergency Times, Meath’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Pádraig Ó Longaigh said “It was a great achievement and shows the level of training and commitment within Meath County Fire & Rescue Service  but also shows the knowledge and training given to the Irish Fire Services who can compete at the highest levels worldwide.”

World Rescue Challenge 2015 – Lisbon

Ireland featured highly in the overall results in the recent World Rescue Organisation challenge in Lisbon, Portugal. This event incorporated an Extrication Challenge and a Trauma Challenge,

The World Rescue Organisation (WRO) Challenge sees the World’s best rescue teams compete annually in an event designed to challenge emergency service personnel and raise awareness of the global problems of road death and injury. The challenge consists of 3 different scenarios with marks awarded for each scenario and combined to give an overall placing.

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Photo: (Carlow Team in action at WRO)

In total, sixty-eight teams from thirty-four fire & rescue services from across the globe took part in each challenge. Ireland was represented by the following County Fire & Rescue teams in two categories. (i) Extrication: Meath, Carlow and Laois and (ii) Trauma: Wicklow, Meath, Carlow, Laois and Motorsport Rescue Services.

Carlow County Fire & Rescue Service took home three awards while Meath County Fire & Rescue Service were joint 2nd Overall and the team Incident Commander Paul Colleran was 2nd in the overall category of Best Incident Commander.

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Photo: Meath team at WRO: (ACFO Pádraig Ó Longaigh, Alan Egan, Alan Campbell, Keith Russell, Nicky Brunton, Paul Colleran, Dave Snowe)

The Team from County Carlow, which was made up of Fire-Fighters from Carlow Town, Bagenalstown and Tullow stations have done themselves and their county proud by bringing home 3 awards from the event. They won 1st placed in the Complex Rescue Awards, 2nd placed Best Technical Team and 3rd place Incident Commander.

The Carlow team consisted of Station Officer Andrew Hickey (Tullow), Driver/Mechanic Darren Somers (Tullow), Driver/Mechanic Paul Curran (Carlow), Fire Fighter Alan Owens (Carlow), Fire Fighter Jonathan Doran (Carlow) and Fire Fighter Andrew Fisher (Bagenalstown). Carlow’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Michael Gahan from Carlow was also involved at the event engaged by the WRO as an Official Assessor.

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Photo: (Carlow team in action at WRO Challenge)

Chief Fire Officer Gerard W. Guerin told Emergency Times “I am very proud of the teams achievements and thank the members of the team, their families, colleagues from the brigades particularly senior assistant chief fire Officer Alan O’Neill (Team Manager), station officer John Comerford, members of the Civil Defence, the National Ambulance Service and all involved in preparing the team to compete at such a high level which has been ongoing for many months”.

Mr. Guerin also said “the rewards from competing at such an event clearly translate to delivering a higher level of service to our communities, particularly when road traffic collisions occur, resulting in people being trapped and in need of extrication and medical assistance”.

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Photo: (Florida Chief Fire Officer Dan Zinge with Carlow team: Jonathan Doran, Alan Owens, Paul Curran, IC Andy Hickey, Andy Fisher, Darren Somers and Mayor of Lisboa, Carlos Costra)

Meath’s Pádraig Ó Longaigh is WRO’s Republic of Ireland Secretary. He told “To be ranked so highly amongst your international peers is a proud achievement for the Irish teams who attended this event. When it comes to RTC & Trauma training and expertise Rescue Organisation Ireland and its teams can justifiably claim to be world leaders. The training and dedication that these rescue teams have put in over the past 12 months and longer has been immense and I am delighted to see it has been so well recognised”.

Dublin Fire Brigade guildelines on use of drones almost complete

Firefighters in Dublin could soon be using drones permanently to help them tackle incidents as guidelines on the use of drones within the fire service are almost complete.

Dublin Fire Brigade is likely to integrate the unmanned flying device into operational use by the end of this year. The quad-copters or drones will be deployed as a means to gather crucial operational intelligence on fires and other emergency situations. Drones can reach greater heights than ladders which allow officers to gather crucial information in an short timeframe.

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Photo: (Limerick Fire & Rescue Service demonstrate drone use)

So far, six fire service personnel at Dublin Fire Brigade have been trained to operate the devices since their introduction to the brigade some months ago. They were tested on a trial use at a major and protracted fire incident at Ballymount in April last.

Limerick Fire & Rescue Service is the first fire service to use drones in the Irish fire service while the Civil Defence has also introduced drones to the voluntary service as part of certain incidents and operations. In the UK, the technology has been adopted by many fire services where they have been fitted with infrared cameras that can penetrate smoke, as well as night-vision capability.

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The Civil Defence has introduced drones
Photo: Pat Flynn

Dublin Fire Brigade’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Denis Keely has said the DFB’s careful, measured approach to developing guidelines and introducing them to the public arena is critical. “We want to be slow with this and make sure everyone moves along with this rather than being scared off. There is an onus on us that we don’t damage a tool that could be very useful.”

Dublin Fire Brigade is also considering purchasing a second drone which will be fitted to the Incident Command Unit which is mobilised to major and complex incidents.

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Dublin Fire Brigade ACFO Denis Keely
Photo: Declan Keogh

“From an operational perspective, to have an overview, an ability to step back from the situation and a quick visual of an incident from an aerial shot can be quite advantageous” added ACFO Keely.

Bandon woman named Cork Area Red Cross Carer of the year

Bernie O’Reilly has won the Leslie Bean de Barra Award as the Cork Area Red Cross Carer of the Year following a nomination by the Bandon branch of the Irish Red Cross. The award acknowledges the hard work and dedication of informal carers in the home and the community. John Barry, nominated by the Mallow branch, was also recognised for his work caring full time for his sister Maura over the past 5 years.

John and Bernie were the nominees for the award who and were both honoured at a special ceremony held in the Oriel House Hotel, Ballincollig. The event was attended by Irish Red Cross Chair, Pat Carey; National Secretary, Barry O’Donovan and National Treasurer Sheila Callan.

Carer of the Year

Bernie’s 28-year-old son Brendan is wheelchair-bound and communicates through a computer screen activated by eye movement. Bernie has been a full time carer for Brendan for many years. Speaking at the ceremony, Irish Red Cross Cork Area Chair, Pat O’Connor said: “Her positive attitude, energy and her attention to Brendan’s every need brings him great happiness and he has a constant smile on his face. Bernie regards her caring of Brendan as a labour of love.

John Barry has been caring full time for his sister Maura for the past 5 years. Maura has been wheelchair bound since 2010. Having spent some time in a nursing home, John  decided to resign his position and care for his sister full time in their own home. He attends to her every need seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

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Photo: L-R: Pat O’Connor, Area Chair, Bernie O’ Reilly and Marie McSweeney, Cork Area Health & Care Officer)

Pat O’ Connor said John and Maura are seen regularly on the streets of Mallow where they stop and have a chat with people. This brings great joy to Maura as she meets her many friends regularly as she herself worked in a ladies clothes shop in the town.”

RNLI Reindeer Runs launched by World Champion Derval O’Rourke

World champion and European sprint hurdle medallist Derval O’Rourke has teamed up with the RNLI to launch three RNLI Reindeer Runs in Cork and Dublin.

The three time Olympian athlete and author visited Fota House and Gardens outside Cobh to team up with volunteer lifeboat crew and kick-start the festivities for the upcoming reindeer runs. The events will be held at Liss Ard Estate in Skibbereen on Sunday 22 November, Fota House and Gardens outside Cobh on Sunday 29 November and Marlay Park in Dublin on Sunday 6 December.

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Due to the popularity of the reindeer runs, the charity has introduced a third venue at Liss Ard Estate this year. The stunning 200-acre estate in West Cork is located close to the RNLI’s newest lifeboat station at Union Hall which was established on a trial basis in September last year.

Launching the reindeer runs, Derval was joined by Union Hall RNLI crew members Shane and Stephen Hurley, Helvick Head RNLI crew member Liam Harty and Youghal RNLI crew member Martin Morris.

Born and raised in County Cork where the RNLI has eight lifeboat stations, RNLI supporter Derval, is familiar with the charity’s lifesaving work. ‘Living in Cork, I am all too aware of the search and rescue work the RNLI carries out around the coast and of the commitment of its lifeboat crews who dedicate themselves to regular training and to responding to their pagers at any time of the day or night.

‘Having experienced the festive spirit at an RNLI reindeer run for the first time last year, I am delighted to see that the event is going from strength to strength and that the RNLI has introduced an additional venue for West Cork. These events are a great way for us to build in some exercise in what can be a hectic season while also showing our support for our lifeboat crews as they continue to save lives at sea.’

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Looking forward to the first reindeer run at Liss Ard Estate which begins at 10.30am, Stephen Hurley from Union Hall RNLI said: ‘We have had a busy first year in Union Hall and have been overwhelmed by the goodwill shown by the people of West Cork and much further afield.

‘Last year, RNLI lifeboats in Cork launched 163 times, bringing 218 people to safety. Across Ireland, there were 1,089 lifeboat launches and 1,414 people were rescued. While the figures show that our lifeboat crews are busy all year round, some of our most challenging call outs will occur over the winter months. However, having the support of people who so generously fundraise and sign up to take part in events such as the reindeer runs, means that we can avail of first class training and equipment and be ready to answer the call and help someone in need when our pagers go off.’

The second reindeer run in Cork takes place on Sunday, 29 November at Fota House and Gardens, starting at 10.30am.

Dublin’s reindeer run will take place in Marlay Park in Rathfarnham on Sunday 6 December, starting at 10am.

All abilities and ages are catered for with participants choosing from a 5km or 10km walk/run or a shorter Santa Saunter.

Registration for the three events is now open online at and costs €20 for the 5K and €22 for the 10K. Children’s tickets are €10 and a family ticket (two adults and two children) is €55. All participants in the 5K and 10K will receive an RNLI Reindeer Run t-shirt, a pair of antlers and a car sticker.

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Photos: (RNLI crew members Stephen Hurley, Liam Harty, Martin Morris and Shane Hurley pictured with World champion Derval O’Rourke at the launch of the RNLI Reindeer Runs which will take place in Cork and Dublin)